Blood centers in Nebraska are taking precautions to head off potential troubles with the Zika virus outbreak.
Nicole Hanger, spokeswoman for LifeServe Blood Center, says they’re following FDA guidelines in dealing with blood donors who may’ve been exposed to the virus.
“If you have traveled to any country where the Zika virus has been identified, then we want you to wait 28 days from the date that you return,” Hanger says.
A spokeswoman for the American Red Cross says they, too, are following the guidelines of having donors wait fours week if they have been in a country where the virus is prevalent. That includes the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Samoa and Cape Verde.
Hanger says with Spring Break approaching, more Nebraskans may be heading into those high-risk areas.
She says they are anticipating more travel to those countries and more people becoming ineligible to give blood for a while.
Hanger says those who aren’t traveling to the Zika areas are asked to help out by donating blood. She says they will try to make it easy by asking people if they have traveled to the risky areas when they come in to donate blood.
“So that we can defer them prior to their registration and going through the whole process,” she says. “Ultimately our goal is to protect the blood supply. We want to make sure we have a safe and stable blood supply.”
She says they don’t want to see another lag in the blood supply like they saw in recent months. “During the winter months, we often see the donations decrease simply because of the winter weather, which we experienced several weeks ago,” Hanger says.
She says donors responded and helped build up the supply again, but they have a need blood throughout the year, especially O-positive and A-positive.
Hanger encourages everyone to think about donating.
“If you haven’t donated for awhile, and you don’t have any travel plans, we really need you to come in and give that life-saving blood donation to help sustain the donor base for those who maybe are traveling,” Hanger says.
For further information or to schedule a blood donation appointment, visit www.lifeservebloodcenter.org or call 800-287-4903.
LifeServe Blood Center provides blood and blood products to more than 100 hospitals in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota.